CMF Phone 1 Is Customizable and Fun, but at What Cost (Literally)

The smartphone market right now is a tad too saturated, and new phones don’t excite me anymore. In a market like that, CMF Phone 1‘s back panel customization instantly caught my eye. Nothing as a brand likes doing things differently, which was how the Nothing Phone 1’s Glyph Interface took the internet by storm a couple of years ago. Its wackier sub-brand CMF is giving its first phone a similar treatment. But, the customization options offered by Nothing come at a cost. Is it worth it?

Plenty Customizations!

Picture this – a smartphone that’s more than just a slab of plastic, letting you customize it to your heart’s content. That’s how you get the CMF Phone 1 (read our in-depth review), letting you slap on different types of back panels, allowing you to truly define the personality of the device. Not to mention that the ability to open your phone’s back panel has been long pushed into the curse of oblivion, and this is quite the nostalgic trip.

You can choose from the Black, Blue (India-Exclusive), Light Green, and Orange color variants. While the Black and Blue colors come with a matte plastic finish, the Light Green and Orange panels use vegan leather.

For customization, you can choose to grab from a selection of Light Green, Orange, and Blue panels, for now. The material used is also different on these panels, letting you pick between matte plastic and vegan leather. The process to change CMF Phone 1’s back cover is also quite easy.

In addition, the modular dial on the phone is part lanyard, part kickstand, and part card holder all at once.

You can also mix and match the panels and accessories to your fill and satisfy your inner Picasso. Besides, the leather options are also very nice to have, and let you mask the budget plasticky phone with a more premium coating.

The CMF Phone 1’s accessories are pretty useful too, and boy, did I get nostalgic to see a lanyard cable on a phone after so long. Nothing was kind enough to send us all the back panels and personalization accessories to try out with the phone.

CMF Phone 1 disassembled

So, we mixed and matched the back panels and the end results are rather colorful. You can easily use the back panel from one pack as well as the dial and SIM tray from another to create unique color combinations.

Also, the Black panel comes with black screws while the rest of the colors sport silver ones. So, if you want to take customization all too seriously, you can mix and match those screws as well. With so many ways to go about panel customizations, I found the CMF Phone to be a very cool device. But…..

Pricier Conundrums, Sadly

CMF Phone 1 with all its back panels

All that customization comes with a price. That’s what brings me to question if this individuality that the phone brings is even worth the money. Does creativity come with the cost of clouding practicality?

The CMF Phone 1 starts at Rs 15,999 for the base 6GB RAM and 128GB storage variant. Now, you only get your desired colored panel slapped on the phone out of the box. As a result, to even make use of customization, you will need to spend an additional Rs 1,500, which is what each of the back panel bundles costs.

Then come the accessories which cost Rs 749 each. If you ask me, CMF should have added at least one accessory or panel in the box, since customizability is what makes this device special in the first place. In the box, you don’t even get the hyped hybrid screwdriver-SIM ejector tool, and get a normal SIM ejector. So, ultimately, even this ordinarily extraordinary phone fails to hit the spot in the cost-to-customization ratio.

Thanks to Nothing, we were able to test all the panels and accessories out with the phone. But, for the regular user, spending around 10% of the phone’s value just for the sake of customization is a little too much.

A+ for Effort, Nothing

CMF Phone 1 with all back panels and dials

I’m not a fan of the “customization, only if you pay extra” strategy of the CMF Phone 1. Some level of customization should have been included in the box, especially since other phones in the budget come with a back panel and charger in the box.

There’s another concern at hand. If you are launching a product like this in the market, you need to have the ability to sustain support for it. When talking to our Editor-in-chief, Anmol, I realized how big an issue this was. He gave a great example of how he bought an electric toothbrush a while back and now, the changeable tips don’t sell anymore, rendering it useless.

If Nothing is injecting such a customizable phone into the smartphone market today, I really do hope that they have plans to support its panels and accessories. In case someone gets the CMF Phone 1 today and wants to customize it at a later date, they should be able to do that.

Nothing has been pretty vocal about it all and has also talked about releasing the CAD renders for the Phone 1’s back panel customization. That’s a great move since it will pave the way for third-party designs and customizations, and I’m very excited about that! Most importantly, it’s a calling to other brands to bring back the good old back panel customizations.

With that being said, this was just my opinion. But, I’d love to hear yours, which you can drop in the comments down below. See you in the next one, folks!

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